The fourth step helps you identify possible causes of Ben's underachievement and target those areas in your teaching.
You want to determine whether Ben's underachievement is due to:
- general delayed development in learning. This can be caused by a range of developmental issues, such as sensory, physical, language, intellectual, emotional, environmental or socio-economic factors.
- a specific learning disability such as dyscalculia. Individuals have difficulty learning maths facts and procedures, recognising the relationship between symbolic and non-symbolic forms of number (for example, 'seven' and/or '7' and a corresponding number line or array of dots).
- and have trouble understanding quantities and concepts like more and less, or smallest and biggest. They also have difficulties making number comparisons (for example, that 12 is greater than 10).
Analysis of Ben's assessment data will indicate which cause is more likely and what that means for your follow-up teaching plan.
Evidence for delayed development cause
To examine evidence for the delayed development cause, you can analyse Ben's learning in other areas. We know that Ben has dyspraxia. Given the critical role of motor ability and strategic action in children's general development, it is likely that this has affected aspects of Ben's physical, language, intellectual and emotional development and capacity to respond to their environment. These aspects can impact on Ben's ability to make the maths learning progress of same-age peers.
Detailed information about Ben's delayed development may be available in their school records. Ben's parents may have described earlier development, acquisition of milestones and obstacles and barriers encountered. There may also be reports from health and medical professionals such as psychologists, speech pathologists, developmental physiotherapists or paediatricians that examine the impact of dyspraxia on Ben's learning capacity.
Delayed developmental issues can impact on maths outcomes across the three strands. They can also have a more specific impact, for example, the student may be able to understand maths concepts and procedures fluently but not use them in problem-solving. Alternatively, you may also see the opposite pattern where a student can solve real-life maths problems but not recall the underpinning concepts and procedures fluently. It's recommended for any student that you compare the particular maths tasks they can answer correctly with those that they cannot.
Evidence for the dyscalculia cause
Although it is unlikely, it is possible that the dyspraxia has not impacted the development of Ben's general learning capacity and that underachievement is limited to numeracy and due to dyscalculia. In this case, you would expect:
- learning ability in other areas to be in at least the average range
- maths outcomes in areas that did not draw on numeracy skills to be better developed than those that require numeracy skills.
Students with dyscalculia have specific difficulty understanding and using number concepts and skills. These make up the areas of number and place value and counting processes and are the pre-requisites to learning maths knowledge and skills in other areas, for example, understanding units of measurement and interpreting and representing data.
Because these are components of other areas, it is often difficult to identify their direct impact in maths tasks at the Year 6 level. You can see their influence more clearly when you analyse how Ben works through tasks and note the components in a task that challenge them.
You can find more information on
Learning Difficulties in Numeracy (5 videos).